Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas Pageant

I was really really hoping that our Christmas pageant would be canceled on account of the snow. Well, it wasn’t. Here’s what went down.
A few minutes before the beginning of the pageant, we did a head count. We were missing three shepherds, five angels, one sheep and the baby Jesus (doll). First things first, we had to find a baby Jesus. After all, the nativity isn’t really worth doing without a Jesus. So, we (Tanya and I) frantically searched the church for a doll that we could use. The options we found were as follows: Barney, a teddy bear, Strawberry Shortcake, a boxing glove, and a Caillou doll twice the size of any of the kids in the play. No “normal” dolls to be found. We decided that the teddy bear was the least “offensive” and proceeded to wrap him up in the so-called swaddling clothes, hoping against hope that Mary (who was played by a four year old) would not unwrap the baby Jesus (and expose our fake)…
Next, we had to figure out what to do about the missing players in the play. The angels didn’t really matter that much since we still had two left. Granted, two angels hardly make for a "multitude of heavenly hosts", but it was still better than none. The missing sheep was okay, but there were no shepherds. Sheep definitely need a shepherd, especially since our actors were all under four and the shepherds we had assigned were older and meant to lead the sheep. Besides, the angel of the Lord didn’t exactly proclaim anything to a bunch of grazing sheep. So, downstairs to find someone willing to play a shepherd with no rehearsal and to tend to some very unruly sheep (Matias being one of them). After being turned down twice, I managed to rope in one of the youth (who saw it as his ticket to get out of singing later ;) So, crisis averted; we had a shepherd. Now, to find him a costume….
Tanya tries her key in the locked door behind which are all the costumes. Guess what? The door doesn’t open. I’m not kidding. The key that worked last week, doesn’t work today. Now the mad dash looking for people who have keys who may be able to open the door, as the clock ticks closer and closer to 5pm, when the service begins. After trying multiple keys, trying to pick the lock and pry it open, we manage to get it open and get the costumes. At this point, we peek into the church to see whether things have started. They haven’t, but some of the kids are playing behind the manger scene and one kid is taking hay from the manger and throwing it around the “stable”. Oh well, no time to go down there and stop her, so we just hope that there is still some hay left on which to lay the baby Jesus.
So, we round up the kids and try to get them into their various costumes. One room+six excited kids changing into costumes=NUTS! I manage to grab a storybook from the Sunday School room, so that once the kids are dressed, they can sit on the floor “listening”. Once everyone is dressed, more or less, we head downstairs. We wait in the hall for our cue. I am literally holding the kids back so they don’t all charge into the church before the choir has even finished singing. Joseph keeps saying that he is first. No one can stand in front of him in the line. The sheep keep pushing to get to the front…
Finally, it’s our turn. The music is cued and Mary and Joseph enter the church with baby Jesus tucked safely in Mary’s arms. They enter nicely and even remember to lay Jesus down in the manger. Next come the sheep. The shepherd leads the way. I whisper to the sheep as they enter the church, “remember to crawl”, since sheep are four-legged animals. The first sheep goes the wrong way, but realizes his mistake and finds his spot. The second sheep tries to crawl, but keeps getting stuck. Poor kid, his costume is too big and he can’t move his legs. Finally, after some adult intervention, he makes his way to centre stage. The third sheep upon hearing my advice, says “no thank you” and proceeds to walk on two legs. She decides to act out the lost sheep rather than the nativity scene and proceeds to sit at the back of the stage on a chair (waiting to be “found” I presume).
The angels come out. No problems there. Well, unless you count the fact that the sheep aren’t quite resting at centre stage like they are supposed to be. The angels make their proclamations and exit the stage. The shepherd and sheep go straight to the manger instead of off stage (I guess they found a detour to get to Jesus faster). The angels reappear and head to the manger as well, picking up the “lost sheep” on the way, who has spent the whole play sitting at the back…
Everyone is at the manger scene. One of the sheep picks up Jesus. Oh well. The kids proceed to sing. You can actually hear them; wow. Of course one of the angels is standing with her back to the audience in the front, but at least she is focused on Jesus… And then it’s over. The kids stumble their way out of the church. We take the kids upstairs, take off the costumes, get dressed and that’s it. We are done and can breathe a sigh of relief that despite everything, the play had some semblance of order, that the kids actually sang and didn’t merely stare at the audience and that no one had a last minute meltdown refusing to go on stage. The baby Jesus did accidentally get left behind in the manger at the end, but oh well. It could have been worse...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Matias can “read” the above logos, along with a long list of other words. He has been able to do this for a few months now. The interesting thing is that although I highly doubt he is reading the words in a sound-it-out phonetic way, he does recognize the words beyond their colours and distinctive fonts. One day when he was drinking from a plastic cup, he noticed the imprint on the bottom and told me that the cup was from Ikea. The lettering was not “Sweden” yellow, but green like the cup from which he was drinking. I think the words exist as whole chunks for him and not as groups of letters. Probably not anything to get excited about, but I can’t help being a little bit proud that he can “read”. Thank goodness he can read the Vancouver Public Library sign; otherwise his words would consist almost entirely of all the stores where I shop…
On another note, Pentti was cutting an apple a few weeks ago. I asked Matias whether he could have half, daddy could have half and I could have half. He informed me that there can only be two halves in one apple :)
He is also picking up English at his preschool. His word order is a little off, but it’s surprising how well he has adjusted. For awhile I was regretting our choice to teach him Finnish only at home, but I think we made the right choice after all. I think that in order to learn a language that is not the predominant one outside the walls of your home, you need to make it the only one in the home. Matias is surrounded by English. It is inevitable that he will learn to speak it. Not only that, but having a really strong base in his mother tongue and a rich vocabulary in Finnish will actually help him learn English. I have seen so many ESL kids who don’t learn English properly because they have never learned their mother tongue properly first. Anyway….Matias’ latest thing is when he misbehaves, he looks at me and says , “Sorry Annika”. I don’t know how he thought of saying that, but it made me laugh. So naturally, now he says it every time he misbehaves. I can’t help it; it’s kind of funny and it makes me laugh.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Sometimes life sucks. A lot. This would be one of those times. I have no camera to post any pictures because both of our good digital cameras got stolen when our home was broken into this week. We came home to find all the doors open on the middle floor. The drawers in our bedroom had been rifled through, my jewelry box, and who knows what else. It is such a creepy feeling to know that someone has been in your house and looked through your stuff. I don't care that much about what they took (although they did get my wedding ring among others). Stuff is so material, I can always buy more. But the creepy feeling is the worst part, along with the fear that they might come back.
To add insult to injury, or in this case, injury to insult, this morning, as I was carrying Joonas down the stairs, I slipped on a toy and fell all the way down the stairs with Joonas. ARGH. We went to the doctor and Joonas appears to be fine. I had to go for some xrays and for those I don't have the results yet. But I hurt, all over. I can't step on my left heel at all and my right knee is shot.
Anyway, that's been my life. They say that bad things happen in 3s (well old Finnish ladies do anyway). So, the company Pentti works for continues to be in financial crisis. We got robbed and now I fell down the stairs. Could that be the "three"? This dark cloud of gloom and misery can pass onto someone else now; I have had enough.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am starting to get into the Christmas spirit, even though it is only the middle of November. I know, it's early, but this fall has been extremely stressful in our family.Looking forward to Christmas sort of helps me forget all that. However, I don't want to pull out the tree yet, or put up the wreaths on the doors, so I am doing little things, without going overboard. I know that Christmas is totally commercialized, but that's not why I love it. I don't care about the presents. I hate the crowded shopping and circling around and around for parking. It drives me crazy that Costco gets their Christmas stuff out in August every year. That's sick.

But, I love the songs. I love the lights everywhere and all the candles. I love the smell of the baking. The food is so yummy. I love buying presents for people, especially when I find something that I think they will really love. My brother and his wife are coming home for Christmas, so my whole family will be together. The anticipation of Christmas is the best part. And of course, with two little boys in the house, I get to relive Christmas through the excited eyes of a child.

So, today I pulled out the Christmas candelabra. It's beautiful without being full-on Christmassy. During the next couple of weeks, I will pull out a couple more festive (subtle) decorations. But at the end of November, watch out...there will be no holding me back!

Monday, October 27, 2008


I have a new resolution to try at least one new recipe every week. It gets pretty boring making the same things all the time, so at the risk of making some truly bad tasting new things, I am experimenting in the hopes of discovering some new gems. A few weeks ago I made classic lemon loaf. It turned out well, especially the second time when I added extra lemon icing. Yum. This past weekend, I tried to make eggs benedict. Not so yummy. They weren't exactly bad, but they sure weren't my new favourite either :(
The reason I decided to start this recipe experimentation (besides the rote repetitiveness of always making the same things) was that I have a bad habit of ripping recipes out of magazines and adding them to my pile. I have one kitchen drawer FULL of untested recipes. So, I developed a system. I choose a recipe to try. After I have made it, if we both agree that it's terrible, the recipe goes in the garbage, and my pile is one recipe lighter. If the recipe is okay, but not stellar, I give it another try, perhaps tweaking something (like adding extra lemon icing on the loaf). After the second try (if a recipe gets a second chance), the recipe either goes in the garbage (if it still isn't great), or then I copy it into my "black book" of recipes, which holds only my tried and true recipes. Of course recipes that are awesome from the start go straight into my black book. Unfortunately, the eggs benedict did not even warrant a second try, that recipe is now in the trash.
PS. The lemon loaf actually turned out exactly like the picture, which is definitely something to consider when rating new recipes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


A few months ago, I wrote about what a "good" baby Joonas was. Well, I have changed my mind. The last few weeks (months) have been horrible and continue to get progressively worse! First of all, he is teething. Three teeth are either partially out or on their way. Second, he absolutely hates his crib. When you take him NEAR the crib, he starts screaming. We've tried everything. Maybe he's cold. Maybe he's hot. Maybe he needs music. Maybe white noise would help. Maybe he's hungry. But nothing helps. Crying it out is not an option since he is not just quietly crying, he is crying so hard that he starts to puke. Nice, huh?! Anyway, I am sure (?) that it's just a phase that will pass, but until then, I am exhausted.
ps. Angelic picture with the big blue eyes, eh?! DO NOT BE FOOLED.

Monday, October 6, 2008


This is the view from my kitchen window. I love the fall. Even though there are things that I like about the summer, I am never sorry when fall shows up. I love the changing colours of the leaves and the crisp air. I love the darkness and the rain (guess I live in the right place...). I love being inside snuggled up with a good book and a cup of tea. I love pulling out my sweaters and being able to wear tweed/wool again. I love pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving. I love burning candles. To me, fall signifies new beginnings more than January and the new year. I guess that could be related to my profession....lol.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Shack

I recently read The Shack by William P. Young. What a fantastic book! Basically, its about a guy named Mack who experiences a horrible family tragedy (the first 80 pages of the book). Three years later, he gets a letter from God to come meet him at the shack (which is where the tragedy occurred). Mack goes because he can't help himself. The ensuing conversations that take place at the shack are intense, thought-provoking, shocking and incredibly healing. There's a fair bit of controversy surrounding this book and some of its theology may be a bit off. But it definitely makes you think and its definitely worth reading. One of the best books I have read in a long time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rant about Montessori

**Warning: If you aren't interested in educational practices, you will find this post boring :) **
So Matias started preschool this month. He goes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and seems to really enjoy it. They do the usual preschool stuff: singing, playing, art, snacktime, learning the alphabet, playground etc. I love that it’s a place where he feels safe, gets some social interaction, is allowed to freely explore and learns some new songs and routines. No, I did not put him into a Montessori preschool and quite frankly, I am against their whole philosophy.
There are so many parents who seem to think that Montessori preschools are somehow a cut above; that the elite and most caring parents enroll their kids in Montessori. I think they are seriously wrong. But first let me say that absolutely any preschool can have the title Montessori, so the title itself guarantees/means nothing. In fact, I would argue that most preschools that use the Montessori title don’t follow the Montessori philosophy at all and are just using the name to draw people. Second, kids who attend Montessori preschools often do poorly in regular classrooms because the philosophies in most kindergarten (elementary) classrooms are completely opposite to the Montessori method.
Okay, so what’s my beef with the Montessori method? They discourage playing and the use of the imagination. Toys are not allowed. Objects can only be used for their “real” purpose. You can’t pretend a block is a car, because that is wrong. Technically, they are correct in that a block is not a car. However, I don’t think 3 and 4 year olds need to be corrected when they are using their imaginations.
Each object in a Montessori classroom is meant to be used in a particular way and for one specific purpose. This purpose is demonstrated to enforce this point. I find this completely inflexible and stifling.
To discourage play in 3 and 4 year olds is (to me) a crime. Kids already grow up too fast. They need to play, in order to have fun, but also in order to learn. Kids make sense of the world through free play. They need to be imaginative because it helps them think outside the box later in life.
In Montessori schools, the kids work. They actually call it work!! I think that’s crazy. The kids who had the hardest time in my kindergarten class were the ones who didn’t know how to play. They would ask me for extra work. If they had to choose an activity, they would stand in front of the sign up and pick nothing because free play was a foreign concept. Sorry to say, but these same kids were also the ones who had very few friends. So, even though academically, they may have been doing well, socially they were lagging.
I am sure that there are kids who thrive under such rigid structure and enjoy “working” independently. But at 3 years old, I want Matias to feel uninhibited by reality, letting his imagination run wild. I want him to explore things without having to limit his mind to their “real” and intended purposes. I want him to learn to care for others by playing and interacting with them. So, I would never put Matias in a Montessori preschool.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sometimes the old way really was better!

I hate change. Not because I never want to try anything new, but because change that comes from without is rarely for the better. I believe in personal growth (change), technological advancements (change), and all those other kinds of change that come along with aging (getting wiser) and the dynamic nature of the universe. BUT. As the saying goes, To change and to change for the better are two different things.
I remember when I used to work at Eaton’s they used to make a big deal at training sessions that we had to be “change-willing”. The problem with that was that in the seven years that I worked there, there was ONE positive change (new cash registers). The rest of the changes were stupid, time-consuming and usually complicated the lives of all the salespeople. Of course everyone knows the ultimate fate of Eaton’s. It went belly up.
So this week Pentti “upgraded” (changed) our tv/pvr system. Guess what? It no longer works properly. It stalls. It skips. It crashes. Thanks for the “improvements”, but I was fine with the old system. But that system is of course irretrievably gone forever. Great.
Also this week, the powers that be at facebook decided to force everyone into a new format. Guess what? NOT better. I hate it. It’s confusing and messy and hard to navigate. I don’t know anyone who likes the new format. The only upside is that I will be spending much less time facebooking :D
I also seem to be cursed with liking products that are doomed to “tweaking” which, again, are rarely improvements. My favourite toner is now blue (instead of clear) and doesn’t work as well for my skin as the old formula. My favourite salad at Cactus Club has been taken off the new menu. The formula for Oxiclean was changed and no longer takes out stains as well as it used to. Again, thanks a lot.
So, change sucks. I know, I sound like an old lady. But that’s okay. After all, my Spanish professor at UBC told me about 10 years ago already that I had the soul of a 50 year old woman. He was an old and wise gray-haired intellectual, so I took it as a compliment. That would make me (or my soul anyway) 61 :D

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to School

So, today was back to school for the kids and teachers around here. But not for me. At 8 am when I woke up, I was not late for work. I wandered downstairs in my pajamas (with Joonas in tow) and made myself a nice hot latte. I fed the boys breakfast and thought about exercising. Hmmm. I ran on the treadmill, while the boys played. We went for a walk, and had some lunch. Then it was nap time, and they are actually both napping :)
My mat leave is up in October, but I am going to stay home with the boys for at least another year. So, I didn't have the usual back to school stuff to think about. I didn't have to pack a lunch. I didn't have to set up my classroom. I didn't have to attend any staff meetings (YAY!!!). I didn't have to make any small talk with parents. I didn't have to do playground duty. BUT. I also didn't get to see any excited students. I didn't get to chat with my colleagues. I didn't get to have those nervous, excited, happy, tired feelings that go along with the beginning of another school year. Oh well. There are days when I really really miss teaching....How much I miss it varies from day to day and is directly related to whether my own two boys are driving me crazy or not. Still, even on the "bad" days, I would rather be at home taking care of my own two kids than at school taking care of someone else's. Fortunately, today has been a good, calm day and so I am quite happy to be at home, rather than sitting in some mind-numbingly boring staff meeting. School for the kids only lasts an hour on the first day, but for teachers, it goes on until 3pm. Depending on what time that staff meeting is scheduled, and how many annoying teachers there are who ask lame, redundant questions, it can go on and on and on and on...
Anyway, there are some things that I miss about being at school, because I really do like my job. I miss some of the students. I had one boy in my grade 3 class a few years ago who drove all teachers nuts. Other teachers came to tell me that they felt sorry for me because he had been assigned to my class. You know what? I thought he was awesome. Yeah, he was really hyper and loud and annoyed the other kids. But, he was hilarious too. When he got really excited, he would stand in front of everyone, play his air guitar and sing "Ole, ole, ole, ole". He wasn't "bad", he just found it really hard to contain himself. Maybe because I liked him, he noticed and was better for me? Who knows, but I never had any problems with him. I had another kid in that same class who was an awesome writer. During free writing, he came up with the craziest, most original stories. I used to look forward to reading his notebook (which he let me keep at the end of the year). Another kid was the most amazing drawer. At 8 years old, he could draw better than anyone I know. In another grade 3 class that I had, the kids were really sweet. Some of the girls wrote me letters years after they had "graduated" from my class. Quite a few of them would show up in my class after school begging for little jobs so they could hang around after school.
So, anyway, with schools starting again today, I suppose that I am feeling a little nostalgic. But then I remember: That because of dropping enrolment, I would have been surplussed and sent to a new school. That meet the teacher night is in September. That there is never enough money to properly set up classrooms, so teachers have to pay for things from their own pockets or have super anemic classroom supplies. That Gordon Campbell is an idiot and so is his peon Shirley Bond, the minister of education. That report cards are laborious to write. That the photocopier always has a line up at the beginning of the year. That the staff fridge will smell by Friday. Etc. Etc. And guess what? Nostalgia gone.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


My mommy friends were over today with their kids. It was great!! The kids played (all five of them) and the moms sat around drinking coffee. Thankfully our kids play fairly well together, so that we can actually sit down and have coffee, rather than spending the entire 2.5 hours chasing after fighting kids. Yes, there was some noise, and running, and the occasional squabble about a toy. But overall, we could relax and let the kids play.This is no small feat when you consider that there were five kids (all mobile) in a small space peacefully co-existing. But I have decided that it comes down to the parenting....
Friends are important at any time in your life, but I think that they are absolutely crucial if you are at home with little kids. And I think "mommy" friends are the only friends that really need to be somewhat like-minded, or at least on the same page when it comes to parenting styles. I will never bond with the hippy moms who let their kids run wild, because I find it exhausting to parent their kids on top of my own. I will never bond with the super active moms, because come on, I will never go hiking up the Grouse Grind with one of my kids in a back pack. Why would I when I can call over one of my likeminded mom friends and sit on my butt drinking coffee and eating fresh-baked brownies instead:) I will never become close with the "perfect" moms, the ones who pretend that they are never frustrated and are full of platitudes about the loveliness of children. And I will never understand the partygirl moms whose kids seem to be an afterthought and a hinderance to their clubbing and drinking.
The moms I am friends with are educated and have had careers. They like to read, a lot. And yes, they STILL read even though they have kids. Because either you are an avid reader or you aren't. If you stop reading because you have kids, you are not an avid reader. Avid readers can't live without reading. Books, real books. But I digress. My mom friends love good food, and in most cases, are culinary geniuses themselves (although this is not a requirement...lol). They set boundaries for their kids and they try to provide stimulation and creative outlets. They also see the value of play and arrange regular playdates for their kids. They don't freak out if your house isn't spotless, because theirs isn't either. They always show up at your door with something to eat so that you don't have spend your morning baking up a storm (unless you have a particularly strong craving for brownies like I did this morning....) But most of all, they are just real. Real women who talk about real feelings. Frustrations, lack of sleep, being underappreciated, husbands, kids, work, cooking, books, current events.

So, I am so grateful to have found mommy friends who make my life better. I have known these particular moms since Matias was less than 1. Our kids play nicely and we can just hang out and commiserate. And when we're done, the world just feels like a better, lighter place.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

happy anniversary

Today is wedding anniversary number 9. Crazy how time flies! We aren't really celebrating much today. We're going to celebrate on the weekend, when my sister can watch the kids. Although to be honest, I am celebrating by going to the Gipsy Kings concert. Pentti is coming with me, but he is coming, not to celebrate, but as one of those martyred, self-sacrificing gestures one makes in the name of marriage. Ah, wedded bliss. Perhaps he will have a good time in spite of himself? That depends on whether he is allowed to surf on his (blackberry type) Nokia phone during the concert:)
Anyway, for our anniversary, I thought I would share our song. Well, we have more than one, but this particular song is one Pentti has promised to sing to me on our 50th wedding anniversary because (according to him) it reminds him of me. By the way, that would be in 41 years, at which point I would "only" be 76, so it could actually happen :)The song is below along with a very rough translation for those who don't read Finnish.
ps. yes, the wedding photo is actually us, except our hands have a weird orange tanorexic hue, which they did NOT have on the actual day nine years ago...

Runo By J. Karjalainen
Kun sinut näin, olin kääntää sivua
Olit niin hienon ja taiteellisen näköinen
Että pelkäsin sinua
Kuin lumottuna kuitenkin sua katselemaan jäin
Ja ihmettelen vieläkin sua
Tavaillen näin
Olet runoni
Vaikea ymmärtää
Olet niin kaunis että
Tahtoisin yrittää
Ei mulla koskaan ole ollut mikään kovin hyvä lukupää
Usein hyvä kirjakin multa puoliväliin jää
Mutt’ lukemista sun en tahdo lopettaa
En vaikka koville se kyllä joskus ottaa
Sanot yhtä
Tarkoitat toista
Merkitset kolmatta
Etkä edes odota että pysyisin perässä
Olet runoni
Vaikea ymmärtää
Tehtävä tää
Mua alkaa miellyttää
Aikeesi sun, pikkuhiljaa selviää
Alusta loppuun uudestaan ja uudestaan
Mulla on aikaa
Sua lukea saa

My Poem By J. Karjalainen
When I saw you, I almost turned the page
You were so fine and artistic looking
You had me scared
But I kept staring anyway, like one captivated
I still wonder at you
And I say...
You are my poem
Difficult to understand
You are so beautiful
I’d like to try my hand
I’ve never been much of a reader
Even good books end up half way read
But reading you I will never stop
Even though some days it can take all that I've got
You say one thing
Mean another
Infer a third
And you don’t even expect me to keep up
You are my poem
Difficult to understand
I am starting to like
This challenge of mine
Your thinking is slowly coming clear
I have time
To read you

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hope, BC

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I am so NOT a low-maintenance nature girl. I hate Birkenstocks. I need a shower. Bugs make me crazy. And yet...there is something to be said for communing with nature. Or at the very least, getting away from the big city. Right now I am sitting on the terrace of my parent's second home in Hope (drinking coffee of course). There is a light breeze swaying the leaves on the trees in the backyard. Water is rushing down the creek as the occasional butterfly floats by. The thermometer reads 27 C. It is the perfect summer day. And even though I am no granola girl, it feels peaceful and calming to be here, in this little backwater town, closer to nature and fresh air. In fact, whenever we get off Highway 1 and enter the city of Hope, with its two grocery stores, one theatre, no Starbucks and couple of gas stations, I often find myself sighing with relief. Like here I am again where I can breathe and relax. No crazy traffic. Nowhere that I have to be. Just enjoying life one moment at a time. Of course, if we didn't have two kids under 4 with us, it would take me to a whole other level of relaxation, but still ;)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My dad is a total Mr. Fix It. But, he's no Tim (the toolman) Taylor, stuff actually works after he fixes it:) Today, he came over to watch the boys and I complained that our fridge was flooding with water on the bottom. Right away, he suggested what might be the problem. I emptied the fridge and freezer and what do you know, he was right, the refrigerator drain tube was frozen solid. He proceeded to thaw it (with the help of my hair dryer) and now it works like a charm. In the process, parts of our fridge and freezer were lying all over our kitchen. One of less faith would have wondered whether our fridge would ever work again. But I knew. My dad KNOWS how to fix stuff.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Black Shoes

I sort of bought another pair of black shoes today. Its actually my sixteenth pair of black shoes. Pentti thinks I am crazy (I think he has one pair of black shoes, maybe two). But let me explain.... First of all, the shoes were from Winners and didn't cost a lot. But more importantly, they fulfill a specific "need" that I had. They are slip on, semi casual and have a bit of a heel. I swear, in all my other pairs of black shoes, no others fulfill all these requirements. In fact, no two pairs of shoes fulfill the exact same shoe needs. (Well, except one pair which I loved so much that I bought another pair that was exactly the same. But, I bought the second pair from craigslist, so they don't really count). Anyway, like I was saying, all the shoes meet different shoe needs. Some are for fall/winter and some are for spring/summer. Some have heels, some are flat. Some are open toe and some are closed toe. Some are casual, some are dressy and some are in between. Some are better worn with skirts and some are meant to be worn with pants. Three pairs are sandals. One pair is a pair of boots. Three pairs are loafers. So there you have it. I may be a tiny bit of a shoe freak, but I'm no Imelda Marcos. Besides, there are worse addictions than shoes, right??? ;)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

London Heathrow

I hate London's Heathrow airport. We had to stop there on our way home as there are no direct flights from Finland to Vancouver. Here's what happened:
Heathrow is a busy airport. So, we sit in the plane circling and circling and circling around the airport for at least 20 extra minutes before we are given permission to land. Since our plane was a little delayed in taking off from Finland, we are already running behind and an extra 20 minutes of waiting is not time that we have to spare. So, we embark off the plane straight onto the tarmac outside and onto a bus (I hate it when you have to do that). We sit on the bus for 10 minutes which takes us to one of the terminals. Not the terminal we need of course, so we have to get on another bus that takes us partway back in the direction from which we just came. Finally, we get to the right terminal. We go to the airline counter to try to change our seats, but get a useless guy who types into his computer for 1o minutes, but says he can do nothing. Thanks buddy. Then we line up to have our passports checked. The line snakes around three or four times. Great. We pass through and go to the security line. Its huge. We have 40 minutes until our plane takes off and about 50 people in front of us. They don't care or prioritize in any way between people with 2 hours until their flight leaves and people with 40 minutes (or 10 minutes for that matter). I should mention that they do make an exception for those flying in first class. How nice. Anyway, by this time I am really upset and sure that we won't make our flight. Some guy about 15 people in front of us actually leans over and says we can go ahead of him. I actually start crying I am so relieved. So, we wait a while longer and its our turn to remove all coats, shoes and baggage. Even my 3 year old has to remove his shoes and gets really upset because he doesn't want to, thinking he won't get them back. At this point I am ready to run through naked as long as it speeds things up. Well, we are (obviously) traveling with a baby. Problem. All the food, water and formula we have for him has to be tasted/tested in front of them. Excuse me, what?! We have about 5 glass jars of sealed baby food and I am supposed to open them all and taste them?? With no refrigeration, they will of course spoil within an hour and we have to fly for nine hours. I protest and explain what will happen. The girl goes to ask her superior. Meanwhile, the male security guy asks me to taste one of the (six) bottles of water. Ah, whatever he says. The girl comes back and says, fine, I only have to taste one jar as long as she can choose which one. Fine, (just hurry up!!). So, she chooses a jar of strawberry dessert. Thank goodness for small favours since I would have thrown up if I would have had to taste the squash turkey stuff. Anyway, finally, we are able to pass through. But, we still have to catch a train. We run to the train, get on and hope for the best. We run (along with a lot of other people) to the gate and make it with no time to spare. None. I guess the most important thing is that we made our flight but what a stupid airport. There are tens of escalators you have to ride up and down, buses, and trains to take from one terminal to another. And the business of testing the baby food? Come on. I had heard of this happening, but if its so important, then why is it so random? Some woman is suing an airport because they made her dump 1.5 litres of breastmilk that she had pumped. Do you know how many hours of pumping that is?? Why did I have to taste the water that I brought, but they didn't even look twice at the formula powder that I had brought along? Why did they insist that I had to taste everything and then agree to let me taste one jar and one bottle of water? I don't get it. If its up to me, I will never fly through London again.

Friday, July 4, 2008


So, our trip to Finland is drawing to a close and I thought that I would add some random thoughts about what its been like here, in other words, some more of the good and bad.
I mentioned previously that the toilets are clean and that still holds true most of the time. All of them are still cleaner than what you would find in Canada. However, a lot of them also cost money. I find this bothersome,especially since they only accept euro coins. What if I don't have money?
The smoking here bothers me too. I think that the new BC smoking laws have cut down on how much I am exposed to smoking and smokers in public places. Here, it seems to be rampant. A lot of the women here smoke, which I find especially repugnant.
The shoes. I am a bit of a shoe freak. It really irks me that the shoes here don't tell you where they are made and what they are made of. I have to know whether the shoes I am buying are leather or not and sometimes its really hard to tell.
Graveyards. People here have a strange fascination with visiting graves. Granted, they are really beautiful with manicured lawns and park benches, but I still find them creepy. People here visit graves and plant flowers and at Christmas they bring candles. I guess its really thoughtful to remember the dead, but I find it a bit weird.
Tuulipuvut. To my delight, the Finnish jogging suit syndrome is dying. We used to joke in Canada that the Finns would wear a jogging suit everywhere, even to a wedding. Anyway, I have only seen old people wearing jogging suits. Clearly the younger generation is much more fashion conscious (and sane). Thank goodness.
Dryers. People don't have them. Even people with kids don't have them. I find this insane. Do you know how long it takes for a pair of jeans to dry? Not only that, but once they are dry, you have to iron them because they are so crunchy that you can't move or sit down in them. Also, some clothes stretch out like crazy if you have to line dry them. I can't wait to see my dryer at home. I am actually excited to go home and do laundry. LOL.
The Finnish Eeyore attitude: Oh woe is me, I am nothing. I have a little bit of this syndrome myself, but boy is it annoying on a grand scale. Humility is one thing, but to be so overly proud of being ordinary is annoying. Saying something nice about someone is not going to ruin them. Giving someone a compliment is not supposed to be reserved for funerals. Being proud of your child for an achievement is not something that you need to whisper and apologize for mentioning in case its misinterpreted as braggery. This attitude is often coupled with thinking that all Canadians are boastful and arrogant. Canadians (and here I am talking mostly about Finnish Canadians) know how to enjoy and celebrate life. What's wrong with that? Life does not have to be all about trudgery and bleakness. Personally, I think this is why Finns love their cottages so much. They actually 'allow' themselves to enjoy life there. What a concept.
Finally, I have to say that I have been very pleasantly surprised at the friendliness of people here. I have been told that it is only in Eastern Finland that this is true, but I don't know. I have visited Eastern Finland before and I didn't find it so before. Anyway, this time around people have talked a lot to me (a stranger) and have just been really pleasant and conversational. I find it to be a welcome change.
So, I guess that's it. We fly home to Canada on Sunday and I am not looking forward to the 20 hour trip home with two kids in tow. But, I will be glad to sleep in my own bed, use my espresso machine and hug my dryer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Finland, Part Two: The Bad

Okay, so not everything here is great. There are some things that really get under my skin. Here's the list:

the summer cottages: I know I wrote about them in the things that I love, but they need to be on this list too. Why the heck do they NEVER have showers? The cabin can be simple or super fancy, it doesn't matter, there will still be no shower. People go in the sauna and then wash up in a series of buckets of water. I know its about nature and roughing it and all that, but for crying out loud, if you have bothered to pipe in running water (for the sink and dishes), is it too much to ask to have it come out of a showerhead??? Also, the Finns tend to be a little obsessed with their cabins in that if the weather is good, one must head to the cabin. Every time. Holidays can't really be taken between May and September because then you would miss out on cabin time. Come on people. Your cabin will still be there even if you miss a couple of weeks one summer.

the baby food: strangely enough, the baby food selection here is pathetic. There is almost no organic jarred food. But worse than that, all the food has some weird added ingredients like corn flour etc. In Canada, if you want a jar of blueberries, then that's all you get in the jar. Of course you can get a mix, but it still doesn't contain all kinds of filler flour. Joonas actually refused to eat the food here so we had to get my brother to bring some from Canada.

the produce: I guess that I have been spoiled growing up in BC, but the produce selection here sucks. Exotic fruits are either non-existant or inexhorbitantly expensive. No one seems to carry Romaine lettuce. How can you make caesar salad with iceberg? You can't, its wrong.

travel Finns are pretty good about traveling abroad. Thailand, Spain, Florida and a lot of other warm climates are very popular. That's not my beef. My problem is travel to Helsinki. People who don't live there think that going there is a huge deal. It needs to be planned weeks in advance and you must stay overnight. Its weird. I guess living in Canada one gets used to traveling long distances. Going for coffee 50km away is not considered unusual. In Finland, 50 km requires at the very least a day trip; leaving in the morning and returning at night. Anyway, it irritates me and I think that it contributes to the smallmindedness of Finns. If you stay in your own town 24-7, with maybe the occasional trip to Spain in the winter, your horizons are not very broad and you become small minded.

Finland, Part One; The Good

So there are things that I love about Finland and things that I don't like so much. One of things that I love is the nature. There is so much of it. I mentioned in the previous post that there are more than 150,000 lakes. But there are also trees and wild flowers and parks everywhere. Driving around, you see pastoral views on all sides, kind of like when you used to drive on Knight Street in Richmond way back when and there were flowers and cows grazing in the grass. In Richmond and almost everywhere else, the cows and fields and flowers have been replaced by warehouses and buildings and apartments. Ugh. But not so in Finland.

Anyway, here is a list of the other things that I love about Finland:

the food, its to die for. Chocolate, baked goods, bread, yogurt, candy, cheeses...I could go on all day

the cleanliness the public washrooms are clean and well-supplied and even smell nice; I kid you not

the weather here in eastern Finland, the weather has been great; mostly sunny and warm. This is especially great after the horrible weather we had in Vancouver this spring (btw the weather in the rest of Finland has pretty much sucked, but that's not my problem...)

transportation I haven't taken a train or bus yet but they are awesome here, and run on schedule. So far, I have been able to walk everywhere in Lappeenranta, and that is a good thing in itself. Everything is close by and people walk, or bike, A LOT.

summer cottages everyone has one, and they are almost always beside one of the many lakes

the 'tori' An open air market, kind of like Granville Island, but actually outside. There are flowers and produce and fresh baked goods and people milling around. Every city in Finland has one. This is where we go to get the best lihapiirakka (meat pasty) in town...mmm...I can taste it now, especially looking at the pic above....

Well that's all for now. The next edition, will be the 'the bad'.

Friday, June 13, 2008

See Ya

We are off to Finland, the land of 150,000+ lakes. The pic above is from my in-laws summer cabin, which of course sits on a lake. Later.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Happy Father's Day (a bit early)

I have a really great husband who is an awesome dad to the boys. I don't know how I would manage, or maintain my sanity without him. On weekends, when he is home, he is usually the one who gets up with the boys and the one who changes all the dirty diapers. During the last week, I have gone out for three evenings and he has stayed home to watch the boys. Now you may think that its only fair that he watch the boys since I stay home with them all day. True enough, but he does work long hours and watching two boys all evening after sitting in the office for eight hours isn't exactly relaxing. So, in honour of Father's Day, I think he deserves an award. Seriously. I am amazed at the number of husbands that I come across who are absolutely no help to their wives in taking care of their kids. I have heard one dad refuse to take his kid because he wanted to get seconds for dinner, meanwhile his wife had eaten nothing. Another dad "makes" his wife take the kids everywhere with her even if he is at home. The more I see the more I think two things: 1. that I (and my kids) won the lottery with my husband 2. that no wonder dads have such a bad rep as being deadbeats. More than anything though, I really wonder about the wives. In the 21st century why would you let your husband get away with that?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 20th

"People who constantly react are never really free. Someone else is always in control, determining how they feel and act".

This quote has been my mantra lately. Or at least I have tried to live by it. I tend to be a "reactionary". Someone cuts me off on the road, or doesn't signal or "forgets" how to alternate when merging and I start to see red. Some days I just get a little annoyed. Other days, when the offense has been really grievous, I can be fuming for a while. In fact, I may even tell Pentti about it in the evening, if someones has really royally ticked me off (usually these are the near-accident stories where I could have been seriously hurt because of someone else's idiocy). Anyway, at the end of the day, whether I fume for a few moments or a few hours, I have let the other stupid driver control my day. He/she has gone home more than likely unaware and definitely unscathed by my rage. Meanwhile, I have wasted my energy on getting mad. What's the point? I am only in control of my car. Wouldn't it be better just to (fake) smile and say bless you in an attempt to prevent someone else from ruining your day?

Road rage is of course only one simple example of letting someone else be in control, but its a pretty familiar one to most people. Me, I am going to try to act, not react. I will chose to be happy on the road.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Creator of the Universe

Matias loves going to Sunday School. Every Sunday on our way home, we ask him questions to see what he picked up and what he thought. I love some of the answers that I get. A few weeks ago, he came home with a sheet that had the sun, moon, stars, night and day on it. Obviously, they had gone over the creation story. So, I asked him, "who made these?". He told me that Emma did. I tried to clarify my question (since I knew that Emma had been helping out and had probably helped him colour the pictures). I asked him again, who made the stars, and the moon and the sun? Emma did, he answered, getting a little frustrated that I didn't get it the first time. I tried one more time, explaining that I didn't mean who coloured them, but who made them. Emma did, he said. So, fine, I gave up. Thanks to Matias, Emma (one of the teens from the church) has been elevated to creator of the universe status in our household:)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I can't believe it; Joonas is six months old today. I know I sound old, but it seems like just yesterday when he was born :)

He is such a "good" baby. Actually I really hate the term "good baby". Just because a baby cries or fusses a lot, does not make him or her a "bad" baby. Some babies are easy and some are more high-maintenance. Anyway, Joonas belongs to the former group. He laughs and "talks" all the time. He sleeps through the night and has for quite some time.

Today he had his first taste of rice cereal. He didn't quite get the concept of opening of his mouth, poor guy. He seemed to like the cereal once I managed to shove it into his mouth, but the part about open wide was lost on him. Its so funny to think that all of these ordinary really simple things have to be learned. I guess the only time you really appreciate how everything works is when you watch a baby who hasn't mastered the skill, or if you happen to know someone who has been badly injured and had to relearn all these basic skills.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I have come to the conclusion that I have some kind of book hoarder personality disorder. I have spent the last few days trying to clean and clear out some of my overflowing bookshelves and I can barely scrape together one measly little box of books to donate. When I think about it in theory, I have lots of books that I really don't read or need and probably never will. And yet, I just can't bring myself to part with them....
When I am trying to decide whether to donate a book or not, I have several reasons for holding on to books. First, there are the books that I really love, that have had a profound effect on my life. Those I could never part with. Then, there are the books I haven't actually read yet. I feel like I can't get rid of those because what if I want to read them one day. What a waste to have had a book and never read it. Third, are the books that have been given to me as gifts. Most of these books also fall into the "haven't read" category, but they are extra special because someone has thought of me and purchased them. Of course most of these books will probably remain unread since the people who generally buy me books know nothing about what I actually like to read ;) Still, I can't bear to part with them because, like I said, they were gifts. Fourth are my novels from my days of studying English lit. Some of those books I hate. Some I love, and some are neither here nor there. But alas, I can't part with those either; they have some kind of nostalgic mystical hold on me. Today I picked up my Shakespeare plays. I think I have pretty close to all of them since I was required to take a 6 credit Shakespeare course for my degree. I know I will never read them again. But, could I manage to put them into the donation box? Nope. I was, however, after much consideration, able to part with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I hated that book, all THREE times that I had to study it. I am so NOT a fan of Charles Dickens. Yay, I was able to put it in the donation box. But just to put things in perspective, I have had that book for 18 years, so I guess its about time!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Karl Marx

"Religion is the opiate of the masses". That's what Karl Marx said. And you know what? I agree with him. I cannot be sure what he meant by the comment, but I am pretty sure that our reasoning is quite different, at least I hope so. Let me explain why I think he's right.
First, let me clarify that I am only speaking of the Christian religion, since that is the only one that I can speak to from experience. By "religion" I mean the outward rituals, traditions, behaviours that are associated with a religion. So, for Christians that would mean going to church, tithing, taking communion, helping others etc. Someone who does all the right things outwardly is considered a "good" Christian. I am not necessarily disputing whether they are good Christians or not. However, spirituality is something deeper that is not manifested outwardly in such an obvious manner. And at the end of the day, I think it is spirituality that really matters; what is going on inside, and in your relationships; how you are relating to others and to God. That's where the opiate part comes in.
Merriam-Webster says that an opiate is, "something that induces rest or inaction". So, I think that, unfortunately, there are a lot of Christians whose religion, actually induces rest or inaction. In other words, they do all the right things and think that they are "good". They give their money and their time to the church and they don't even stop to think where their heart is. They think that the outward manifestions of their religion keep them safe and right with God. I think they are wrong and that's why religion serves as an opiate. Its a false security that let's them think that they can live how they please as long as they keep up religious appearances. They don't have to actually love their neighbours, or forgive others, or swallow their pride, or any of those harder things that are required in order to be spiritual. So, they rest contentedly in their bubble of religious behaviour and never aspire to change, or grow, or learn. After all, they have already "made it"; they are "good".
Anyway, that's what I think. So, I agree, begrudgingly, with Karl Marx, the communist atheist.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Yard Work

I hate yard work. A lot. When I was a kid my worst nightmare was when my dad would announce on a Saturday morning that it was going to be a family yard work day. I would beg, I would cry, I would bargain, I would try anything to get out of it, but to no avail. In fact, the only punishment I remember from my youth (for a "crime" I have long since forgotten) was having to clip all the bushes in our front yard. UGH.
Anyway, there are just two things I don't mind doing that sort of involve a yard. One is shoveling snow and the other, which I was doing this afternoon, is powerwashing. I don't know why these two are "fun" but they are. With the snow, perhaps I like it because it hardly ever snows here :) With the powerwashing, I think its the fact that you can see such a difference afterwards. I dunno. Maybe there is some deep psychological reason why these two things appeal to me; who knows. But this afternoon, with the sun shining, I powerwashed to my hearts content.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Aahhh coffee!

I am an addict. I readily admit it. Coffee is my drug of choice.
I realized my sorry addicted state last week when our espresso machine was out of commision for FIVE whole days.
We bought a Saeco espresso machine about three months ago (after returning TWO defective Cuisinart espresso machines). I read the instruction manual which said that once the machine required descaling it would start flashing and shouldn't be used until it was properly descaled. I said to Pentti that we should look into finding/buying/ordering the descaling solution BEFORE the machine flashed. Did he listen? No. So, last Thursday the machine started to flash and I panicked. No coffee? What? I ran to my computer to find out where I could buy the cleaning stuff and managed to order it on-line. The package came in the mail this week, we descaled the machine and now I am able to sit here blogging with a fresh cup of foamy, delicious espresso coffee. Mmmm.
By the way, for those five days, I think I had Starbucks on every one of them. But you know, once you've had really good, foamy, smooth, non-fuel-like espresso, its hard to return to the petrol that is Starbucks coffee :)
No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness. ~Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My brand new blog

I decided to start my own blog; just for the fun of it. I haven't decided whether I am actually going to share the link with anyone, but since my diary hasn't been written in for ages, why not write a blog. Sort of ironic since I once burned one of my diaries after my brother had read it. Now here I am posting my thoughts on the internet. Hmmm.
So, the first thing to do was to come up with a name. Ugh, that was the hardest part. All the cool titles I could think of were gone. I really wanted to call it Cogito Ergo Doleo, which sort of sums up the essence of ME. First of all, its latin, so the "riffraff" wouldn't even get it. Secondly, it actually means: I think, therefore I am depressed, which I often find to be true. I don't really think that deep thinkers are happy-go-lucky people. Not that I claim to be especially deep of course :) Anyway, the name was taken and so were about ten others that I tried, so I settled on this one, which was available.
The title obviously reflects my love of sleep, which I am sorely lacking these days. I could blame it on my two sons (both under 3) but that wouldn't really be fair. When Joonas was born 5 months ago, I was sleep-deprived because of him. But now, I am staying up reading, surfing the net, chatting on line, doing laundry, watching tv etc until 2am even though Joonas goes to bed at 9:30. So, really its my own fault.